Areality of clause-linkage: The consecutive construction in languages of Veracruz

2023. №3, 122-142

Jesús Olguín Martínez
Illinois State University, Normal, USA;


The consecutive construction was once thought to be unique to African languages. Subsequent work has demonstrated its existence in languages spoken in different parts of the world (e.g., Australia and Oceania). Intriguingly, it often occurs in areal clusters. Its areality is a puzzle, because such constructions are deeply embedded in grammars (i.e., marked with affixes, clitics, or conjunctions), and the forms of the markers themselves are not shared across language boundaries. Here it is shown that Veracruz is another zone where this clause-linkage pattern is attested. Examination of a set of unrelated languages indigenous to Veracruz: Huasteca Nahuatl, Papantla Totonac, San Gabriel Huastec, and Uxpanapa Chinantec, sheds some light on how such areal patterns might come about. Based on a number of intra-genetic variance analyses, systematically informed by what is known from social/cultural history, it is proposed that Huasteca Nahuatl served as the source. The consecutive pattern in Huasteca Nahuatl has different functions. It is used for indicating temporal subsequence, motion-cum-purpose, tail-head linkage, afterthoughts, and commands. Some neighboring languages have copied some of these functions, and developed others.

For citation:

Olguín Martínez J. Areality of clause-linkage: The consecutive construction in languages of Veracruz. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2023, 3: 122–142.


I would like to thank Marianne Mithun for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I also thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments have contributed to greatly improve this paper in both content and form. Needless to say, all remaining shortcomings are my own.